Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nitrogylcerin, Mexican Jumping Bean

"Even if the pony is 100% the problem, you are 100% part of the solution." Andy Marcoux

Sunday dawned to start a crazy day. We had hay being delivered in the morning in addition to packing the trailer and getting the pony ready for Mom's spur of the moment lesson. Fortunately, Winston's eyes were 95% better. Such a relief. Unfortunately, our hay guy had to buy different hay since he ran out. The hay he got is pretty stocky and my horses are protesting. Sorry ponies you have 170 bales of it and it won't eat itself.
Once the barn was full of hay, it was time to get the trailer set and brush the muddy girl. She knew something was up, so she was full of it. I stayed out of the way and let Mom and Peggy deal with the loading. We did manage to load and go by 1215. We also managed to drive by our exit causing an additional 12 mile turnaround, but we made it to the Meadow Event Park. The facility was pretty nice with lots of room and three arenas. The arena for the lessons was a large covered one with bleachers.
We all froze watching a few of the earlier people drive and enjoy Andy's humor. The lady just before Mom was a little hard of hearing and some people were telling Andy that. He said "HUH", then "What?" as they tried again to explain. Peggy and I burst out laughing knowing what he was doing. Of course we got caught up watching and ran late getting Mom into the arena.
Rosemary came off the trailer and into harness. She went right into the arena and only spooked a bit when they shut the gate right behind her.

 Rosemary liked to see all the people watching her from the sideline. I could tell Mom was really nervous because she was tight in her hands.

 The tension showed itself when Andy asked Mom to start the cones course, which was really challenging. 2 to 3 was a tight left turn that rattled Mom and caused Rosemary to fight the bit. I felt bad for Mom, but you know the best time for bad things to happen are when you have an experienced eye nearby.

Andy called a halt to the course soon after. Then he went to work taking off the green chest fuzzy. Peggy joked that he had not gotten to the zip ties yet. OMG, the crowd let out a disgusted "ZIP TIES" cry. Just joking. Andy walked over and threw the fleece in the trash. He said the harness fit great so it was not needed and would probably cause a rub instead. We all were happy he did not adjust her harness settings which we had seen him do to others. Whew! Then he took the reins after commenting about her Rose clip. Andy started out with the Coachman's Position holding the reins.
Coachman's Position, photo from Coachman's Delight Inc

 It is one of the left handed driving positions. Rosemary knew she was not getting away with anything while he was in control. Cue the head tossing and foot stomping.

 Andy was great about using the word "STOP" when she was acting out and praising when she was behaving. I am not sure when he did, but he switched from that rein position to the Hungarian. Very subtle method.
Hungarian Position, photo from Coachman's Delight Inc
Andy decided Rosemary hated her bit to the blackest part of her heart. Yes, he has a way with words. He tried raising the bit, but that was worse so he reset and soldiered on. At one point we worried she was too bad to continue. Andy just kept working though.

Mom said that when Rosemary flipped her tail at him, he quietly said "F you too." Andy was amazing at reading her. As they continued to work he stressed looking ahead and planning. He knew that at one point in the arena she inverted and at another she stretched. So he softened before she normally would invert and picked up the contact before her stretch. Soon Rosemary was carrying herself more regularly and with less resistance despite her hated bit.

Unfortunately, I got video, but no sound since when I did that video of Roscoe I turned off the mic. I am sooooo disappointed. You can still see her progression though you miss out on the great commentary.

Andy had Mom put her hand over his, so she could feel how little he did to direct Rosemary. We are talking moving fingers an inch or so forward and back. Rosemary was great about maintaining her trot. When she halted, she stood still. As an owner, I was really proud of her. She worked on the circle and settled into working with Andy.

After nearly 40 minutes, Andy said to unhook her and end on a good note. He said he hoped she went far. He fondly described her as Nitroglycerin, Mexican Jumping beans. Sensitive, and quick. I like to think he had fun with her. Andy certainly handled her personality great. Considering we paid nothing for this class, we gained so much. As a green horse, any superior training she gets goes so far with Rosemary.

One of the bits we will try with her will be the Herm Sprenger Duo, which we used to use with Addie for driving. Andy was quick to say "try the riding bit first" since driving bits are $100's more expensive. Let me tell you I hopped on her bareback on Monday with the Duo and she was so much more connected than before.

So if you ever have a chance to audit or participate in a clinic with Andy Marcoux, do it. What he teaches translates into ridden work too. His website Coachmans' Delight often offers online classes which we have taken before. Love his style and humor. I was so hyped after this lesson, I crashed that night. Hence why it has taken so long to write this post.
Peggy later found out that this rider, driver, ski and sky diving instructor is an amputee. He definitely does not let anything hold him back. An example we can all follow.


  1. what a cool lesson - he looks like a great trainer. interesting to me too bc i know so little about driving. i kinda love how he talks to Rosemary tho haha 'stop whining!' lol